Self-employed people in Cumbria have given a cautious welcome to measures announced to support the UK's sole traders and freelancers during the coronavirus crisis.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced self-employed workers will be able to claim support worth 80 per of their average monthly profits.

The Chancellor said the move - worth up to a maximum of £2,500 a month - would cover 95 per cent of self-employed workers.

He said the scheme will be available "no later" than the beginning of June.

It is open to anyone with trading profits of up to £50,000 and will only be available to those who make the majority of their income from self-employment so only the "genuinely self-employed" benefit.

"And to minimise fraud only those who are already in self-employment who have a tax return for 2019 will be able to apply," he said.

"95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme."

The Chancellor said "it provides an unprecedented level of support for self-employed people".

Sole traders in Cumbria welcomed the support but said they would have to take time to look at the detail to see exactly how it would affect them.

Nick Hall, who runs Nick's Gardening Services, in Penrith, only went self-employed in February last year.

He said he had lost some work since the crisis began, for example, for elderly clients who he did not want to put at risk of infection.

"I have only been self-employed for over a year so I am not sure how much of my earnings will count towards the 80 per cent," he said.

"I will wait and see what the actual details are. I have only put one tax return in, so if they ignore this current year I don't know where I will stand."

Alison Magee-Barker, who operates as a sole trader running AJ Lakes Consultancy, said June was still a "fair way off" for many self-employed people.

"There is a lot of detail we have got to look at," she said.

"It's a great way forward, but when is it going to be paid and how do we manage in the short term?

"It seems amazing. For me it's a way of moving forward but it's the detail of how we claim and how we access it, because that's always an issue."

Oliver McCann of regional law firm Napthens said: “Check out the rules and the details, especially if you have only set up your business this year. The precise application of the eligibility criteria isn’t clear for these self-employed people who may not have submitted an income tax return for 2019because they have only just created their company.

“The Chancellor is saying he will give more time for those who haven’t completed a tax return for last year but I would recommend that they check if they do qualify and what they need to do quickly.

“Some individuals who run their own business but through a limited company may also be caught between this scheme and the job retention scheme announced for employees last week on the basis that typically these individuals take their earnings as employed income up to the tax free personal allowance and the rest as dividends.

"They will need to check the rules which may take a week or so to be communicated, similar to the period of time to do so for the job retention scheme.

“Many of these people will be caught in their own specific circumstances so they need to get advice quickly and refer to the terms of this scheme. They should also remember that they have already had a deferral of income tax for the rest of this year so that will help with cashflow.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said self-employed people could not afford to wait until June.

He said: "The brutal reality is that so many of the nearly 11,000 self-employed people in Westmorland and Lonsdale just simply can’t afford to wait until June to get a proper wage.

“I’ve already had one local self-employed engineer contact me in utter desperation about how they are going to survive over the next two to three months on just £94.25 a week and I’m sure there will be many more just like them.

“I’ve also had a nurse get in touch who is really worried about people putting their own health at risk by breaking the curfew to go out and feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.

“The Chancellor is doing his best in unprecedented circumstances, but we cannot afford to let anyone through the gaps.”

However, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said people across the country would be breathing a sigh of relief.

She said: “Given the complexity of the task, it’s understandable this will take time to deliver.

"Fast clarity on how and when money will reach their bank accounts will help individuals to plan."

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said it would be welcome news for the many self-employed people working in the construction industry.

He said: "I am delighted that the Chancellor has heeded our calls to be generous with his offer to the self-employed, who make up almost 40 per cent of those working in the construction industry.

"Building companies will now also be able to close sites to protect workers and public health without having to worry about the losses faced by self-employed workers on those sites.

"We now urge the Treasury and HMRC to ensure that all support packages are up and running as soon as physically possible.”